The world’s best products are not created in a vacuum. Inspired by the end user, these products appeal to the market because they were designed to provide a specific solution to an existing problem. Iterations to products in development are constantly made to be sure the it addresses the users’ pain points better than any other product. According to long time friend of Tampa Bay Wave, Kevin Hale, co-founder of online form generator Wufoo and now a managing partner at Y Combinator, product development is nothing short of entering into a bona fide relationship with your customers. He so eloquently explains in detail with the “science of love” during a lecture on the topic in a How to Start a StartUp series. He asks and answers, “How do relationships work in the real world and how can we apply them to the way we run our business and build our product?”
Acquiring new users is just like dating
First impressions are the most lasting, and this works just as well in product development and presentation as it does in real life. The first time you introduce your product is crucial to making a lasting connection with your customers. If the product is functional and uniquely so, you’ve got their attention. If the product ventures above functionality to offer extras that make using the product pleasurable in some way, you’ve ensured a memorable first impression. You’ve stoked the flames of desire and set the path for a stronger relationship.
Kevin likens it to dating, “If you’re on the first date with somebody, and you’re having a nice dinner, but you catch them picking their nose, you are probably not going to have another date with them. . . .”
You need to use every opportunity you can to connect with your hopeful customer, from the login screen, the words you choose, the emails you send, your level of customer support, response time, sorrys and thank yous. Support your new customer on their journey to fall in love with you with an open mind and empathy as you iterate on your product to be it’s very best.
Stay married to your users for years to come
If dating went well, and your customers let you put a ring on it, you’ve got loyalty. But, just like in real life, even the best of relationships are messy at times. All marriages are plagued with basically the same exact miscommunications and misunderstanding about kids, finances, in-laws and jealousy. Hale turned to John Gottman, aka the love scientist, to know how successful marriages get past these discussions.
Hale matched these perpetual topics of relationship disagreements to business:
Money – this costs too much, or I’m having trouble with credit cards.
Kids – users’ client.
Sex – performance, how long you’re up and how fast.
Jealousy or in-laws – that’s competition and partnerships.
How you communicate through these topics without criticism, contempt, defensiveness or non-answers is what Gottman says keeps a marriage healthy. Superb customer support within your business with an empathetic response to every single user is the greatest solution. Follow those 4 points of criteria to your tone to keep your customers connected and loyal.
Hale makes the point . . .”if you’re married to someone for 20 years, and you catch them picking their nose, you don’t immediately call your lawyer and start drawing up papers for divorce. You shrug your shoulders, and say, at least he has a heart of gold.”
Have a “marriage” counselor on hand
Building a business takes a major commitment of time, resources and sweat equity. Developing a business and product that people love often time takes the advice and help of outside counsel. Tampa Bay Wave, a startup accelerator, is focused on supporting entrepreneurs building, launching and growing technology companies. With the advice and support of breakout companies like Kevin Hale’s Woofoo, Tampa Bay Wave is sure to replicate this kind of success many times over.
The Tampa Bay Wave Venture Center provides coworking space for entrepreneurs, mentorship and one-on-one access to experts. Entrepreneurs are assessed, categorized and grouped into build, launch or grow receiving the guidance and support relevant to their needs. In one of the most entrepreneurial areas in the nation, Tampa Bay Wave is doing what needs to be done to support Tampa Bay and regional growth.